I enjoy reading the Austin American-Statesman during December each year, when they profile the selected recipients for their Season for Caring. On Monday, the paper highlighted feisty James Ferguson, who enjoys trains and once took an Amtrak trip to Chicago and back just to say he’d done it. I’m not sure whether he’s ridden MetroRail or how he likes it, but something tells me it’s right up his alley. You can get involved with the Season for Caring by visiting the Statesman’s website.
JAMES FERGUSON: Taking life’s journey alone
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Written by Kirk Bohls
James Ferguson has always liked trains.
He’s not sure why or when his fondness for that mode of travel first sprung. But the 66-year-old Texan has always had an affinity for train travel.
Inspired by talk show host Jerry Springer, who said everyone ought to travel to Chicago once in a lifetime, Ferguson hopped aboard an Amtrak train when he was younger and headed toward Chicago.
It wasn’t all he was counting on. The sleeping car that he thought he had booked wasn’t to be found, and he spent much of the trip sleeping in coach. Once he arrived in Chicago, he booked a room in a budget hotel and returned home the next day.
“Jerry Springer said a trip to Chicago never hurt anyone,” Ferguson said. “I was only there one night. I saw all the tall buildings. And I can say I have been to Chicago. I don’t know why, but I just like trains. I love to watch freight trains, and I love to hear a train whistle.”
The life journey that the Lampasas native has taken also has been fraught with trouble and obstacles. He never knew his father and stayed only briefly with an alcoholic mother before he was shuttled between foster parents and Austin State School, where he spent a dozen years and made a lot of friends.